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The economics of crime and socialization: The role of the family

Carlos Bethencourt and Lars Kunze

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2022, vol. 197, issue C, 579-597

Abstract: Empirical evidence suggests that family background and parental criminality are strong predictors of an individuals’ criminal behavior. The aim of this paper is to provide a theoretical foundation of the intergenerational nature of criminal behavior. Drawing on the literature of cultural transmission, we model the dynamics of moral norms of good conduct (honest behavior). Individuals’ criminal behavior and morality are complementarities that reinforce each other. We establish the existence of multiple steady states and provide conditions on the socialization process under which both types - honest and dishonest - survive in the long run even though parents may commit crime but at the same time agree that honesty is desirable. Our model provides a novel and complementary explanation of why crime is highly concentrated in specific areas and why it tends to be persistent over time.

Keywords: Crime; Socialization; Cultural transmission; Moral norms (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J15 K42 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2022.03.008

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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